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Boy didn't look 14, says abuse suspect

Birmingham | News | Published:

A man performed a sex act on a 14-year-old boy but claims he thought the teenager was over the age of consent, a court heard.

Darren Clegg, aged 28, of Hillside Drive, Great Barr, is among a group of 10 defendants accused of abusing the boy.

These include Ian Prestleton, 54, of High Haddon Road, Cradley Heath, and Alan Priest, 63, of Haywood Bridge, Halesowen.

Two further defendants stand trial accused of acting as pimps for the boy, one when he was 14 and the other when he was 15.

Clegg told the jury at Warwick Crown Court that he performed the act on the boy while another man watched – but thought he was 17 or 18 at the time.

Clegg said he lives with his father, but at the time was in a relationship with fellow defendant Peter Joynes, who he had met when he was 19.

Of his meeting with the boy in December 2009, when he would have been 22, he said it was 'a blur,'.

But he told the jury it had taken place after he and Joynes had gone to the Tesco store in Hurst Street, Birmingham, to get some 'bargains' – food that was reduced in price in the evening.

"We got the bargains, and we walked home back to Pete's, and we walked along Kent Street," he said.

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"We met somebody. The bloke wanted a bit of business. He came up to me and said. We were going to say no, but we said yes.

"We walked back to Highgate, where Peter lived. I was carrying the shopping."

Clegg was asked by his barrister what age he thought the male prostitute was, and replied: "17 or 18."

The jury had been told the boy was in fact 14 when he was first pimped out to a succession of men who it is alleged raped and sexually abused him in 2009 and 2010.

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Prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC has told the jury: "This case involves the sexual exploitation of young males in the Birmingham area over a period of time."

Stephen Kelly, 39, of Elm Road, Bourneville, Birmingham, and Tahir Hussain, 34, of St Josephs Road, Ward End, Birmingham denied various offences of arranging or facilitating child prostitution, as well as committing sexual offences against the boy themselves, with Hussain also facing a charge of trafficking the boy for sexual exploitation.

Kevan Tudor, 55, from Erdington, Birmingham, Clegg, Joynes, 58, of Canberra Way, Highgate, Birmingham, Ronald Potter, 78, of Tippers Lane, Fillongley, Coventry, Peter Lowe, 68, of Salisbury Close, Moseley, Ian Prestleton, 54, of High Haddon Road, Cradley Heath, Alan Priest, 63, of Haywood Bridge, Halesowen, Ashley Sherrington, 24, of Dawlish Drive, Bentley, Stoke, Robert Bailey, 27, of Watt Road, Erdington, and Michael Godbold, 57, of Shepherds Bush, London, all face various charges alleging abuse of the boy.

They deny the charges.

The trial continues.

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